Men's Basketball 2013 Outlook: Saskatchewan Huskies

The Saskatchewan Huskies are the first of our Canada West teams as we reach the home stretch in our 2013 hoops previews.

Record: 6-4 conference (4th, Canada West Prairie), 10-5 overall, +7.7 SRS (9th in CIS)

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 112.0 ORtg (2nd), 102.8 DRtg (31st)

First half highlights:
  • A road win over Lethbridge where they shot 56.9%.
  • The country's top offence, non-Carleton division.
  • The very solid seasons of Stephon Lamar and Matthew Forbes.
First half recap: Behind the ball-dominant play of Lamar, the latest California-born point guard to lead the Huskies, the Huskies have once again produced a high-octane offence at 112 points per 100 possessions. But a back-and-forth first semester sees the Huskies just 6-4 and looking at themselves in the mirror for 2013. Three of their losses are by less than five points, but there's a long road to climb in a parity-filled Canada West this winter.

What makes them good: Despite his astronomical usage rate (33.4%, north of the 'Pasquale Line'), Lamar has been great, leading the country in scoring at 25.8 points per game. And he hasn't been the only bright spot in Saskatchewan's lineup: Matthew Forbes actually has a higher PER (26.1 to 25.8) and has a 66 TS%, while Ben Baker, Patrick Burns and Evan Ostertag have been dependable as starters. The Huskies have put up a ton of points (over 80 in every game), have shot 52% on twos and get to the line a ton at .28 free throws per FG attempt.

What they need to improve on: Defensively, the Huskies have struggled. Opponents have a red hot 53 eFG% and have shot an absurd 43% on threes. Those numbers have to come down if the Huskies want to win, regardless of how many points Lamar and Forbes can score. In addition, the Huskies are running the risk of burning out their starters. In that win against Lethbridge, exactly 0 points came from the bench and four starters played at least 37 minutes. Lamar, Forbes, Burns and Baker are all averaging at least 31 minutes, and some bench contribution could go a long way to easing the burden on the starters.

Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: Saskatchewan's first game back from the break is against UFV, a great litmus test for whether this team can make it back to the Final 8. But with five teams .500 or better in their division, the Huskies will need as much as they can get from Lamar and co.
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